My maternity leave officially finished in December, and the other mums I’ve met in the last year are all slowly returning to work, so we’re cramming in as many playdates as we can before then. There are times when being a mum means not eating for twelve hours, not having time to shower or go for a wee alone, but then other days go really well, and you feel like using the spare time you’ve been granted to sit down and make little medals for yourself from tinfoil and string. I’ve resisted so far, but only because I thought writing this post might be marginally more productive. Marginally.
Most mornings involve the ongoing task of finding the perfect Ready Brek:milk ratio, but beyond that, anything can happen. One thing is true though, you usually know by 10am whether it’s going to be a good day or if it’s already gone to shit. I don’t know when I started writing the day off so early, but it’s a daily reality now.
The truth is, it’s honestly not that boring, but so many people become parents with no idea what it will be like that I thought I’d write about our typical week. Here it is:
Most people have babies who get up at the crack of dawn. Be it my downfall or not, I can’t tell, ours is not an early riser. 8am is about as early as we manage, but it means we get a relaxed start to the week (which in turn means a rushed afternoon). We have breakfast and play at home before going to the Children’s Centre in the afternoon. If you’re reading this and looking for things to do with little ones, find out if you have one near you! We’re so lucky to still have ours after the Tory cuts. It has an amazing sensory room (which I have been known to rest my eyelids in once or twice), full of bubble tubes, fibre optic lights and toys. Maddie absolutely loves it, and I tried recreating it in her bedroom at Christmas. The Centre has a weekly weigh-in too and you can chat to the health workers about any issues you have. It’s probably saved us a few visits to the GP and great to combine medical help with some friendly faces that all love seeing Maddie each week. They must see a million babies but they still make them all feel special.
Tuesdays used to be my favourite day of the week. We’d go to Baby Bounce, the free music session held at our local library. It is just a circle of mums sitting in circle, singing nursery rhymes and dancing with their babies, and capable of making new parents feel absolutely ridiculous, but the first time I took Maddie she spent the whole time smiling and laughing so much that I had tears in my eyes and we went back every week.
Since January I’ve been working on Tuesdays though, and I really miss this group. I’m going to rearrange my days next term and hopefully we can go back.
I’ve always been a big advocate of libraries and the sheer amount of free stuff they offer, but since having Mads I think they’re bloody amazing. We could read a different book every bedtime for years and years without ever spending anything, and I don’t think there’s much that beats that.
I’m now realising just how much things have changed in the last year. Wednesday used to be the day we’d go to the breastfeeding support group and I’d ask a million questions each week and meet other mums. Now, I feel like a parenting expert in comparison and those mums I met in the early days now get together for something different each week. I’ve casually dubbed it my mummy day. We do something so that all our babies get together to play, but it’ll generally be over something we can all do to feel a bit more in touch with the adult world. Last week we had lunch out, then watched a film at one of the girls’ houses, other weeks we’ve been to the aquarium and for walks around the park or to a gallery in the area.
Thursday is our quiet day. If we go out, it’s just a quick walk to the shops or around the leafy streets to get Mads off to sleep. The aim is to clean the house but to be honest, it doesn’t usually resemble much other than an abandoned toy factory most of the time, whatever I do to it.
I love Fridays. It’s the only day we have a baby class in the morning, which means we’re out for the whole day. We go to a session called My Baby Can Dance in the park near my parents’ house, so it’s great to drop in there afterwards and give Mads her lunch. Ok, I’ll be honest. Their house is warm, tidy and much nicer than ours, and it’s nice to have a cup of tea where the mugs are clean and the kitchen doesn’t give you frostbite. Sometimes we’ll stay all day and just go home to get Mads ready for bed. Ah, Fridays.
Weekends usually involve grand plans which diminish more and more by the minute until all you really want to achieve is to get into bed by midnight. One day, I’m sure we’ll achieve that family day out that gives you Instagram-worthy photos and everyone is satisfyingly knackered after a day of fresh air and nice food, rather than just plain knackered after three meals of toast.
Renovating a house the same year as having a baby wasn’t a great idea, and I wish at times we’d only done what was necessary so we don’t have to look at bare plaster anymore and could spend more time together doing fun things.
I’ve definitely only covered the highlights here and not the ins and outs of cooking, cleaning and removing spinach biscuits from the bottom of my socks, but that’s generally the best rule to live by – focus on the good stuff. I could write about how I only get showers when Mads is distracted just before her bedtime, or that looking after a baby does sometimes put you on a carousel of nappy changes, cleaning up sick and changing outfits that lasts for 18 hours at a time, but if I focused on that I’d probably never leave the house and never feel happy, or sane for that matter. It is incredibly full on, I don’t watch TV at all anymore and will probably only read a handful of books this year in favour of getting the bloody washing up done, but that’s life, and every smile, bum wiggle and story to tell makes it worth it. Like the fact that we learned Maddie can play peekaboo herself now, and when she first did this she laughed so much she was sick. Maybe that’s one we’ll cherish more than other people!
I definitely crave more me-time, but more often than not I’ll crave more time with my baby before she grows up.
Let me know in the comments how your week compares, and if you’ve got any activities you can’t do without for your little ones.
In my next posts I’ll talk about gentle sleep solutions and the finances involved in being a parent of a nearly one year old. Til then!